Volunteers stress importance of 4-H

Volunteers with 4-H were treated to an ice cream social in recognition for their services, from left: Jennifer Patterson, Naomi Fuson, Penny Meridith, Liz Brown, Sam Patterson, Hagen Patterson, Seth Brown, Dayci Starr, Tony Davidson, Kileigh Meridith, Lawson Meridith, Newt Swafford, Susan Stone, Denise Starr, Jonah Patterson, Tammy Crittenden, Vivian Meridith, Frances Turman, Sky Davidson.

Renee Fite | Democrat Journal

Monday evening, April 19, 4-H volunteers were honored with an ice cream social at the Kiwanis Bandstand. Posters were hung with “Thank You” messages, and cards were given to volunteers with the same sentiment.

Jennifer Patterson, Adair County Oklahoma State University Extension educator and county coordinator, easily found the words to show appreciation for the volunteers.

“Our 4-H program would not be what it is without volunteers; they’re selfless. A lot were 4-H alumni and now are leaders. They understand the program and the importance of it,” said Peterson.

Frances Turman started volunteering at Rocky Mountain when her sons joined 4-H at age 9, and she now has grandchildren in 4-H. She had been in 4-H at Moseley as a youth.

“I started with sewing. My mother-in-law, Cora Turman, was the class granny, and she helped the students. She was really good, especially with shorts. She helped make a lot of shorts. Now with COVID, it has altered our close contact with students,” said Turman.

The opportunities youth get through 4-H is one reason she volunteers.

“I feel like it’s such a well-rounded program. With animals and horticulture, to life skills like sewing and cooking, it teaches young people to be leaders and emphasizes being good citizens,” Turman said.

She enjoys this avenue that allows children to become well-rounded, including public speaking.

“To volunteer, you have to enjoy working with young people, and if you don’t love it and love them, they’ll know it,” Turman said.

Recognized for 60 years' affiliation with 4-H last year, Vivian Meridith began in 4-H at Christie School as a youth, then volunteered when she started teaching at Watts in 1983. Currently she is teaching fourth grade at Zion and is the adult secretary for the county 4-H organization.

“4-H teaches kids responsibility and allows them to do projects on their own, with a little guidance, and to follow through with a project all the way. They learn if they have animals, they’ll get soggy, wet, teddy and dirty when they shampoo them, but that it’s OK,” Meridith said.

At Round Up a couple of years ago, some of the major 4-H donors and successful businessmen spoke, said Meridith.

“They said their success began with skills they learned in 4-H,” Meridith said.

From financial to cooking and sewing, they can learn whatever they’re interested in, she said.

“You get back more than you die. It’s such a neat feeling when you her someone and they’re proud of what they accomplished. It’s neat to be part of that,” said Meridith.

Penny Meridith taught school at Westville 18 years and now works as the Family Consumer Science educator at OSU Extension in Delaware and Adair counties.

“I grew up doing 4-H and always loved it. I wanted my kids to be involved in it. My oldest is in collegiate 4-H,” said Meridith.

More than anything, it teaches life lessons.

“You may not think you’re learning anything by participating, but really you are,” she said.

Anyone thinking about volunteering with 4-H should just do it.

“It’s definitely a very fun and rewarding experience. We are always thinking of new ways to let them have fun,” she said.

Skills can be learned and shared. While volunteers share many skills at which they are proficient, it is not essential for a volunteer.

“You don’t even have to have skills; you learn as you go. You research and find ways to help them with a project,” Meridith said.